There may be a day of our trip where we do not have to take a ferry. But today was not that day. We came to our first ferry (I use that term loosely here) when the sign for the route that we were on indicated that we should cycle on water. We came to an abrupt halt, puzzled as to how to proceed, when a lady cyclist exclaimed “oh I am so glad you are here, I can’t do it in my own and you will save me a long ride to the bridge”. We looked at her blankly, and then she pointed to a winch and our eyes followed the trajectory to a small platform the other side. Realisation dawned. Mr V, after a brief instruction wound the little ferry across. Once boarded, we took it in turns to crank the handle. I could see why our fellow passenger was relieved to see us, it was no mean feat.
After disembarking and exchanging pleasantries, we wended our way through seemingly endless linear villages, noting the close relationship that the Dutch seem to have with water, they are never really far away from some sort of waterway. We travel much of today atop dykes, and it is rather disorientating having the water level higher on one side than the land the other. The Dutch really are masters of this landscape.
Our second ferry of the day was almost a dinky toy ferry, summoned by bell. However, there was a convenient watering hole at the ferry stop, so we thought it would be rude not to avail ourselves, after all we had worked hard with all that winching.
We have now figured out the cycle system, from our day yesterday, and confirmed by today. What we had taken to be route numbers, are in fact junction numbers, with pointers to the direction of various next junctions on. This means that our route plans are essentially a list of numbers, the order of which we have to follow. Today we have relied less on technology, only using it to confirm where we were uncertain, and to find our way to our lodgings. As navigator though, it is incumbent on me to ensure that we are on the right track, alas I did not consider my tinted reading glasses as a necessity for this trip, and so have had to adopt a new fashion, doubling up the spectacles!
As an aside, we have over the last few days been peeved to be overtaken by elderly and/or rather ‘robust’ cyclists; soon realising that they are in power assisted cycles. Our initial, very British response was that really is just not cricket! However, our discussions on this (the benefit of a tandem is the ability to engage in philosophical discourse) led us to conclude, well why wouldn’t you? We all like a travelator at an airport, and it is essentially the same thing.
Though the going has been flat, the passing countryside has been charming, rather than the bland that had been expected.
We arrived at Hoorn in good time. This is a beautiful city by the sea with many historical buildings. There was some sort of cheese festival going on in the main square which seemed to be a cheesy kind of musical chairs.
After meandering around the streets and taking in the sea air around the harbour, we headed out to our lodgings which had been booked through the vrienden op de fiets. We were greeted by the lovely Nelly whose house and garden were a little oasis. We dined locally, navigating our way around a Dutch menu for a Turkish restaurant and bellies stuffed, were guided back to Nelly’s by my red cycle shorts hanging out the window! As the rain lashes down and we are in the comfiest of beds, we know this was a good decision!